Thursday, November 18, 2010

Headshot session with April

A few weeks ago I did a short studio headshot session with model April Boone and makeup artist Kahulani.
Because we were working in pretty tight quarters in the studio (there were two other sets that were being built for an upcoming TV production), we kept the lighting setup relatively simple - 2 AB800s, a large softbox above and a small softbox below for fill. A Nikon SB26 was used as the backlight.

 We kept the background mostly dark, but added some color with an AB800 with a 40 degree grid and a blue gel.

Later we added 2 AB800s in gridded strip softboxes behind the model and swapped out the upper large softbox for a beauty dish.  The image really started to come together once we brought in a Vornado fan to add motion to her hair.

This was our last setup of the day and one of my favorite shots.  April had the perfect outfit to go with these guns.

Just to try something different I added a blue gel to one of the edge lights to throw some color into her hair, to sort of give a nighttime feel to the shot.  Kind of like a glow from a nearby neon sign or something. It's very faint, but you can just barely see it on the left.  An idea to play around with more in future shoots maybe.

I also just heard from the makeup artist that with the help of this final image, April was able to get a part on an upcoming episode of Hawaii Five-0 .  Congratulations April!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Test flying the Steadicam Merlin with a Canon 7D

Tiffen Steadicam Merlin

I recently picked up a Steadicam Merlin secondhand from Craiglist and finally got the chance this past weekend to get some real practice in.  I mounted a Canon 7D with a 17-40mm f4L lens which is the widest lens I currently have.  I'd like to eventually get something wider like a 14mm prime since the crop factor on the 7D makes the 17mm about 27mm.

Because of the added weight of the 17-40 zoom lens to the 7D, balancing the camera on a Steadicam Merlin is a bit tricky.  This is the configuration I used:

Canon 7D iso 200 1/50@ f4
17-40mm f4L lens
B&W UV Haze Filter
Zacuto Z finder mounting bracket (w/o the viewfinder)
Manfrotto 577 quick release plate

Steadicam Merlin
Mount Hole: H
Stage Mark: -2
Front: 1 Finish Weight
Lower: 4 mid, 1 finish weight
Arc Size: 1/2 turn back from full extension
"Z"= -2

Canon 7D / Steadicam Merlin Test Flight from Todd Mizomi on Vimeo.

Learned a lot on this practice run:

Need to learn to walk more fluidly to smooth out the bumps in the footage.

The slightest breeze can make it sway.  Might need to adjust the weights, maybe adding a mid or start weight to the front.

I tend to lower my hands as I walk forward - I have to work on keeping the Merlin at eye level so I can see what the heck I'm shooting. I also need to be careful not to bump the lower spar when going down stairs and have the Merlin trimmed nose down.

I seriously need to work out more - The only reason I put music on this video was to hide my huffing and puffing towards the end as I climbed the stairs to the lookout.  I think I will have to limit the use of the Merlin to short clips.  Steadicam does make a vest and arm system for the Merlin, but with that costing over $1000, I'll have to stick with handholding it for now.

I also have an older version of a Glidecam 4000 which I might try out with the 7D next time.  In preliminary tests, I've found that it is not as susceptible to wind.  The trade-off is that it is harder to fine tune and it is a bit heavier than the Merlin.